Sleep apnea can increase your risk of developing dangerous heart conditions, and it can also increase your risks after getting treatment for these heart conditions. We talked about the risks associated with pacemakers for people with sleep apnea. Now a new study shows that sleep apnea can be deadly for people who receive angioplasties.
What Is an Angioplasty
An angioplasty is a procedure to help clean out arteries that have been narrowed by arterial plaque. The procedure is technically known as a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Arterial plaque can restrict blood flow, leading to heart failure.
The procedure is accomplished using a balloon catheter. This involves threading an uninflated balloon through the arteries until it reaches the point of the obstruction. Then the balloon is inflated, removing the obstruction.
One common complication of this procedure is that the cleaned-out artery will collapse and narrow, resulting in the same or even less blood flow. To prevent this, a small tube, known as a stent, is used to reinforce the arteries.
Risks Related to Sleep Apnea
People undergoing an angioplasty are already at risk for heart-related complications. But researchers found these risks were much higher for people with untreated sleep apnea. They analyzed the risks for over 1300 angioplasty patients. The patients were given an overnight sleep study within a week of their angioplasty. It was found that over 45% of angioplasty patients had sleep apnea. Patients with sleep apnea were more likely to be male, have a higher body mass index (BMI), have hypertension, and have diabetes. However, their procedures were statistically similar to patients without sleep apnea.
Patients were then followed for a median of about two years, and it was found that they were 1.5 times more likely to experience major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events (MACCE), including:
- Nonfatal heart attack
- Nonfatal stroke
- Adverse growth of blood vessels
That risk level persisted after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, BMI, and other conditions like diabetes and elevated blood pressure.
Treatment Paves the Road to Recovery
Facing the need for an angioplasty should be a wakeup call for the major health problems you are facing as a result of sleep apnea. It’s important to understand that medical treatments like angioplasty are only part of the plan to achieve improved health and reduce risks of future complications. To be truly healthy, you have to treat sleep apnea, which may be a major contributor to your heart risk in the first place.